I think there is something special about Christmas. The holiday is indeed considered a major one, celebrated by many as a religious and secular one. The concept of gift giving has been elevated over time into a maniac Madison Avenue orgy of commercialism and the largest amount of consumer spending of each year takes place over what is known as the Christmas season.
My love for December 25 started young. My folks made it so. I grew up with two wonderful parents who experienced the Great Depression and other hardships. My mother was an orphan early in her life and had been passed around to aunts and half sisters. My father was the last of eight children whose own father, to put it kindly, knew more how to make children than how to feed them. When my parents met and married and begat three boys of their own, the concept of family was the “Prime Directive.” Christmas became to them a time of giving and sharing. They went all out on this holiday due to what they themselves lacked during their own childhoods.
Santa Claus was real for our family. My two brothers and I appreciated and vocalized toy desires from the Sears catalogue (then the largest national retailer). There was something very magical about going to bed on Christmas Eve with a bare conifer and awaking to a present laden floor that hid the entire circumference of that tree. While we did get our tidy whiteys and socks, we also received train sets, games and baseball gloves in gaily wrapped boxes. It was the best of times to be a kid (and an adult watching).
Now I have grandchildren that live a continent apart from me. The desire to view a Sears toy book has abated over time thankfully since they no longer exist. However I still dream of having the ability of making a wish and having it come true. Very rarely it has happened. My San Francisco Giants have won two World Series the past five years. On the down side, I was not the holder of a winning ticket of last week’s Mega Million Lottery. But I have a list of things I could ask Santa for when it comes to the AGRR industry.
I came into automotive glass with the view that it was a noble craft to practice. We had a skill set to learn and employ. We were on the same level as plumbers and electricians. AGRR changed as vehicles safety mandates were inputted into glass designs. Sealants became structural adhesives which attached glass to vehicle bodies instead of just making them water tight. The introduction of curved laminated and tempered glass eliminated the need for a glazier to know how to custom cut glass for his customers. So by the mid 1960s, less skilled practitioners could enter the replacement field due to that change. Mobile technicians came into existence and flourished for the same reason.
The ability to manufacture replacement glass parts also changed AGRR. No longer could the local glass shop be solely responsible for fabrication and install. The mid 1960s was a time when the rest of the world recovered from World War II and produced vehicles that were imported and accepted here. That created new demands, new products and new practices. In many ways, this was the high water mark for the need and acceptance of craftsmanship.
Much has changed in 50 years for AGRR as it has everywhere else. What I bemoan is the collapse of both quality and pride in product and workmanship in our industry. I wish in some way that could change. Santa would not have a hard time discerning who is “naughty or nice” and act accordingly.
Were the good old days great? No! We had our hacks and bad product since our industry’s birth. However the bar that defines excellence is far lower today than it ever has been.
Take replacement parts; glass, moldings, clips, etc. They come with a far lower acquisition cost than ever before but it this writer’s contention that the quality is commensurate with the fallen price tag.
It is my most sincere wish that Santa could somehow convince the entire economic spectrum from manufacturer, distributor, retailer and consumer that cheap does not mean better. The cost cutting that takes place throughout the supply chain does nothing to benefit the consumer other than paying less initially.
In too many cases, the long term effect of making price the only purchasing consideration is to incur more costs in the future with either increased labor costs, warranty issues, or, if you are the end user, more replacements, imperceptible safety concerns or collateral damage due to improper removal or installation procedures.
Santa, please save us from ourselves! AGRR is a mess! We have corporate glass that preaches numbers over noteworthiness. One is seeking world domination by becoming the “McGlass” of AGRR. Thanks to the Internet, there is a rise of cyber companies, which are merely facades that promote low prices to Internet shoppers. These companies bear very little responsibility or liability as they farm out work or leads to many of the scavengers that exist in the shadows of our industry.
The term “independent” has come to mean the best and the worst of AGRR. There is no real legal barrier preventing the most ignorant, incompetent or reckless persons from calling themselves installers and going into business and foisting themselves on an unsuspecting public. Good shops and installers are affected by these pitiful purveyors because profit margins become smaller and smaller due to increased competition and the inability and ignorance of consumers to discern what is true value and quality.
I want to still believe in you Santa. You came through with the train set and the Rawlings’ “Brooks Robinson” model baseball mitt. However you seemed to miss my request for the contents of FortKnox or the affection of Catherine Zeta Jones. I know you have it in you to grant these small requests.
I won’t forget the cookies …